Monet’s Garden Then & Now


giverney_1.jpg Photo by Chris Card Fuller
The National Geographic Traveler Paris contains some nice details about Monet’s garden that you’ll want to keep in mind as you take your tour.
I had been aware that the house and gardens were in a poor state of disrepair when they were first donated to the Academie des Beaux Arts in 1966. But what I didn’t know until reading the National Geographic Traveler’s article (writers Lisa Davidson and Elizabeth Ayer), is how much trouble Monet had in getting permission to divert the Epte River. This would be necessary to create the now famous lily pond with its surrounding exotic bamboo forest, wisteria and weeping willows. Apparently the local government strongly disapproved of what appeared to be an incredibly ostentatious project (and were they ever right!)

Although Monet’s house is normally jam-packed and claustrophobic during the summer months (see my previous entry re seasons) it’s still worth the visit, first of all to see his collection of Japanese prints, but also to admire the cheery blue-tiled kitchen and yellow dining room. According to the National Geographic Traveler Paris, Monet loved to entertain his friends in this part of the house where everyone contributed a recipe or two – Rodin, Mallarme, Sacha Guitry – for example.

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One wonders if any residents had survived to this day whether they would be pleased or horrified at the busloads of tourists who come to admire Monet’s gardens. Monet did not admire the traditional classical French garden. Yet his garden is not exactly romantic English either. Flowers are planted row after row with the straightforwardness of a nursery – yet flowers are left to bump into one another like unruly school kids who refuse to keep in line.

Maybe the reason why so many of us who visit Monet’s garden feel at home here is because we not only love looking at the flowers – but we feel as if we are those flowers, at least the part of us that just wants to burst into rainbow colors and sing out of tune.